Skip to comments.The Paradox of Unified Control–How Conservatives Can Win Without Bush
Posted on 01/31/2004 3:07:29 PM PST by Kevin Curry
Can conservatives win in November if Bush loses the White House? The easy answer is "No." The thinking answer is quite different. The easy answer overestimates the power of a Democrat president who must work with a Republican-controlled Congress. The thinking answer is that gridlock is often preferable to a government shifting into high gear regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat is at the wheel. And gridlock is always preferable to progressivism, whatever its form.
Liberal nanny state progressivism is a rouged tart wearing a high tight skirt standing on the street corner, who whispers "$20 for a good time." Compassionate conservative progressivism is the wholesome girl next door in a county fair booth that reads, "$20 for a kiss"only the bargain is even worse, because the government forces you to pay, and someone else gets the good time or the kiss.
Neither form of progressivism is acceptable to a conservative who has better and more profitable things to do with his time and money.
The key to understanding why the thinking answer attaches such small value to a Bush win this November is to understand the paradox of unified control. Common sense suggests that conservatives are best served when Republicans have unified control over the two branches that write the checks, pay the bills, and write and enforce the laws: the executive and the legislative. That was the delirious hope of conservatives, including myself, who cheered in November 2000 as Bush won the White House by the narrowest of margins and the Republican Party won combined control of the Senate and the House in 2002.
But this delirious optimism has turned steadily to dark dismay as Bush recklessly and heedlessly cranked the conservative agenda hard left and smashed it into reefs of trillion-dollar Medicare entitlements, record deficit spending, incumbent criticism-stifling campaign finance reform, illegal alien amnesty-on-the-installment-plan, NEA budget increases and the like.
Where has the Republican co-captain Congressbeen as Bush has pursed this reckless course? Mostly sleeping or meekly assisting. Would a Republican Congress have tolerated these antics from a Democratic president? Absolutely not! Why has a Republican Congress tolerated and even assisted Bush to do this? Because he is a Republican and for no other reason.
Thus, the paradox of unified control: a president can most easily and effectively destroy or compromise the dominant agenda of his own party when his own party controls Congress. Bush has demonstrated the potency of this paradox more powerfully than any president in recent memoryalthough Clinton had his moments too, as when he supported welfare reform.
Does this mean conservatives should desire a Democrat president when Congress is controlled by Republicans? No. Conservatives should desire a consistently conservative Republican president who with grace and inspiration will lead a Republican-controlled Congress to enact reforms that will prove the clear superiority of the conservative, small government agenda by its fruits. Bush's tax cuts are a wonderful achievement, and have had a powerful stimulating effect on the economy. But imagine how much better the result if he had not set forces in motion to neutralize this achievement by getting his trillion dollar Medicare boondoggle enacted.
Ten steps forward and ten steps back is may be how Republicans dance the "compassionate conservative" foxtrot, but in the end it merely leads us back to the same sorry place we started. It is not an improvement.
When a Republican president compromises the conservative agenda and is enabled to do so by a Republican Congress too dispirited or disorganized to resist, the next best answer might well be for a Democrat to hold the White House. Nothing would steel the courage of a Republican Congress and enliven its spirit more than to face off against a Democrat bent on implementing a liberal agenda.
Any Democrat unfortunate enough to win the White House this year will face the most depressing and daunting task of any Democrat president ever to hold the office. The Iraq War will become his war, and he will be scorned and repudiated if he does not with grace, power, and dignity bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. That means he will have to conduct the war in much the same way that Bush is conducting it nowhe will not have the latitude to do much else. If he conducts the war in the manner that Bush is conducting it, his own base will abandon him.
Any Democrat president will also have to choose between spending cuts or raising taxes. If he chooses the latter, he will see his support plummet as the economic recovery sputters and stalls. If he chooses the former, he will dispirit his base supporters. In either case he will strengthen the hand of the Republican controlled-Congress and see Republican strength enhanced in the Senate and House.
If SCOTUS vacancies open up, he will see his nominees scrutinized and resisted with a zeal that can only be expected and carried out by a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee that has suffered through years of kidney-punches and eye-gouging in judicial appointment hearings by a Democrat minority (it would help immensely if the spineless, Kennedy-appeasing Orrin Hatch were replaced as Committee Chair).
As his frustrations grow, his support plummets, and the Republican Party adds to its numbers in Congress, a Democrat president would be viewed as opportunistic roadkill by zealots in his own party, including and especially the ice-blooded and cruelly-scheming Hillary Clinton. In the run-up to the 2008 election Democrats would be faced with the choice of continuing to support a sure loser in the incumbent or a scheming hard-left alternative in Hillary. The blood-letting in the Democratic Party through the primary season and into the convention would be grievous and appalling, committed in plain view of the American publicwho could be expected to vomit both of them out.
That would leave the field open for the Republican presidential candidate to achieve a victory of historic proportions in 2008. With greater Republican strength in Congress, the opportunity would again present itself for this nation to finally achieve the dream of implementing a real and substantial conservative agenda, of actually shrinking government in a large and meaningful way.
The key to achieving that dream, of course, is to carefully select an electable conservative for 2008 who will remain true to the conservative vision and not cause conservatism to fall victim again to the paradox of unified control.
It is not too soon to start looking for that candidate.
The only way Kerry wins is if Bill and Hillary don't try to defeat him. HIllary wants the nomination in 2008.
The only way for Kerry to stop that is to promise to make Bill Clinton Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Don't think they don't have the FBI files to get it done.
It is not too soon to start looking for that candidate.
You are right. But we cannot afford another mistake.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
If SCOTUS vacancies open up, he will see his nominees scrutinized and resisted with a zeal that can only be expected and carried out by a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee that has suffered through years of kidney-punches and eye-gouging in judicial appointment hearings by a Democrat minority (it would help immensely if the spineless, Kennedy-appeasing Orrin Hatch were replaced as Committee Chair)/.
No they won't. They never have before, there is no reason to think that they will start now. There would have to be a turnover, a revolution, in the Senate far bigger than the 1994 House elections to give the Senate GOP enough cojones to do something like this. A Democratic President would be able to pack the Federal judiciary, up to and including the Supreme Court, with so many liberal activist judges that our system of checks and balances would be totally screwed for a generation, maybe longer, maybe forever. And the Senate will not stop him, no matter who runs it.
I'm automatically leery of any stratagery (tm GWB) that requires losing to win. And while I'm not a "Bushbot", and I don't agree with a good bit of GWB's domestic agenda, I just can't see risking the security of the country by letting a Rat run things for four years. Monsieur F'in Kerry, or the Breck Girl, or Howard the Duck, or even Hillary!(tm), would not prosecute the War on Terror in the way it needs to be prosecuted.
I agree that we have got to find a more conservative Presidential candidate in 2008, that's not really debatable. But GWB is our best bet in 2004.
OK, you frightened me enough!
Gridlock isn't all bad. George Will did a great piece on gridlock about ten years ago. He essentially said that for conservatives gridlock accomplishes in the short term what they desire for the long term. A government unable to get much done is preferable to one that find it too easy to get things done.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 97-3 without dissent in the Judiciary Committee, and without floor debate.
I guess you all are going for 3rd degree burns in 04.
Uh Kevin that was 10 years ago. If you want John Kerry to be Commander in Chief(actually it would be Kofi Annan and the UN) that's your opinion and your right to have it.
But it is also my right to have an opinion and that opinion of you wanting John Kerry and Kofi Annan to be Commanders in Chief is nuts.
Ok. You can stop now. I know that amnesty thing made me mad, but stop, already.
Once again, I expect a damn close race with little help from the reactionary utopians. If GWB loses the WH, the GOP can kiss both houses of congress goodbye, and all the hopeful prognosticating will be worth less than Joe Lieberman's momentum.
Isn't that what the Republican leadership said in 1993?
Nice piece, Kevin! It looks like you put a lot of thought into this.
Final votes are for Show to the folks back home. Clinton was a sure winnner when the senate voted 100 to zip not to hear any evidence against him in his trial.
When the jury refuses to hear any evidence against the defendent... you can kind of figure the FIX is in.
Everyone knew that if the the amercian people heard the evidence against Clinton, he was toast! But they voted 100 to zip NOT to allow the presentation of any evidence against Bill. Then a marjority voted not quilty.
If they could not get a single Senator to vote to hear the evidince against Clinton, how many do you thing they could get to vote against him for the Supreme Court. You would need 40 votes and the last time they could not get even one.
Did Bill and Hill destory all those FBI files? I don't think so.
I think President Dole said it too.
A Bush loss is not the end of the road. It could--and I believe would--actually be beneficial over the long haul.
But that requires a strong Republican Congress, which I am working very hard to bring about.
It should be obvious to any conservative willing to apply some intelligence to the matter that it is preferable to have a government sitting dead in the water than to have one drifting or steaming full throttle to the left--regardless of whether a Repubican or Democrat is at the helm.
The same was said by you purists back in 92. But you all go ahead and go for those third degree burns, but I am not joining your self immobilation party.
Call George Soros, I have no doubt he would be glad to supply the gasoline(money) for your fest.
That said, you obviously put a lot of time and effort into this well-written piece. Reminds me of the days when I first joined FreeRepublic, and the majority of the posts were actually substantive. Thanks for elevating the debate.
But would they find ways of making themselves heard if a Democrat tried to dump this garbage on them? The roar would be ear-splitting.
Some people have never outgrown the desire to be ruled by kings.
At which point, he will pull out his pen and write an Executive Order. Stroke of the pen, law of the land. A SCOTUS appointment is too important ( all the marbles) to be left to a democrat with a pen.
No they won't. Withdrawal will be far more complicated than you imagine. No move will be without political risk; every move will be scrutinized severely. Winning the Dem base will not translate into wider success among the Amercian voting public. The UN doesn't vote, and doesn't matter.
The economy will be booming, . . .
Only if the tax cuts are made permanent. A tax increase will depress it, shut it down--especially if spending programs are not curtailed.
The Republicans have never effectively resisted anything in the Senate and with a Dem in the Whitehouse
Republicans have never had this level of control with a Dem in the White House. Not in recent history, anyway.
Liberalism has been discredited. It is on its downhill slide. Clinton was sly enough to realize this, which is why he moved to the right. Apart from Lieberman (who has no hope) and perhaps Clark (who has almost no hope), none of the current crop of Dem presidential hopefuls has any ability let alone any inclination to move to the right.
I must modify the last comment. Screamin' Dean is a notorious cheapstake. He is likely to control spending--not because he is admires conservative values, but because he's a cheapskate. But he really has no hope either.
Any Dem who wins this fall will expereince the most feckless and frustrating term in power since Carter.
And Carter's wan, failed administration set the stage for a mighty Reagan victory.
On the other hand 'Can Conservatives WIN with Bush'.[i.e. not the crossdressing New World Order Neocons or the RINOcons]
A SCOTUS appointment cannot be made by executive order.
So she might take the Chief Justice spot herself. Lots could happen before 2012 and she'd be pretty old by then anyway.
Not if they can't get them through. Haven't you been paying attention to Bush's attempt to get his judges through?
And Bush has only has to contend with minority opposition on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Hatch will be replaced Kevin, by Arlen Specter.
You elect a democrat as President, you get liberal courts. Thats the history and the fact. To deny it is folly.
Wow, you really believe GOP Senators will miraculously have some spinal growth.
Hillary may pretend to--or even be--a third-way adherent, but her candidacy will bring its own hugely divisive, ugly dynamic to the fore. She will be running in 2008. Better that she run a brutal campaign against a failed Democratic incumbent in the primary and display herself in all its hideous unglory than save her game face for a fresh Republican candidate in the general election.
Precisely so. These "conservatives" that would prefer a Democratic win in 2004 are similar to the "Catholic" traditionalists who bash the Pope to bits.
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